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Career Profile: Materials Scientists

Research and study the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic or composite materials, including metals, alloys, rubber, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and glass. Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications. Includes glass scientists, ceramic scientists, metallurgical scientists, and polymer scientists.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 7,100 people employed as materials scientists in the United States. The median annual salary is $99,500. Entry level employees earn approximately $54,810 per year and senior employees earn approximately $165,290 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Supervise and monitor production processes to ensure efficient use of equipment, timely changes to specifications, and project completion within time frame and budget.
  • Visit suppliers of materials or users of products to gather specific information.
  • Conduct research on the structures and properties of materials, such as metals, alloys, polymers, and ceramics, to obtain information that could be used to develop new products or enhance existing ones.
  • Test individual parts and products to ensure that manufacturer and governmental quality and safety standards are met.
  • Teach in colleges and universities.
  • Research methods of processing, forming, and firing materials to develop such products as ceramic dental fillings, unbreakable dinner plates, and telescope lenses.
  • Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.
  • Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials with special characteristics.
  • Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
  • Prepare reports, manuscripts, proposals, and technical manuals for use by other scientists and requestors, such as sponsors and customers.
  • Perform experiments and computer modeling to study the nature, structure, and physical and chemical properties of metals and their alloys, and their responses to applied forces.
  • Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.
  • Test material samples for tolerance under tension, compression, and shear to determine the cause of metal failures.
  • Test metals to determine conformance to specifications of mechanical strength, strength-weight ratio, ductility, magnetic and electrical properties, and resistance to abrasion, corrosion, heat, and cold.
  • Write research papers for publication in scientific journals.
  • Confer with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
7,100
Annual Openings:
700
Increase in Openings by 2030:
4%
Annual Salary Range:
$54,810 - $165,290
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree